SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Zeus Kerravala
Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Zeus Kerravala | March 08, 2017 |

 
   

Message to Avaya Customers, Channel: Don't Panic!

Message to Avaya Customers, Channel: Don't Panic! When thinking about the ramifications of Avaya selling off its networking business, take the long view and relax.

When thinking about the ramifications of Avaya selling off its networking business, take the long view and relax.

The Green Bay Packers, led by struggling QB Aaron Rodgers, started off the 2014 season 1-2. The always-calm Rodgers told the panicked Packers' fans to R-E-L-A-X, and the team ended up finishing 12-4 -- winning its division but losing in the NFC title game to the Super Bowl-bound Seattle Seahawks.

Rodgers' message to fans not to panic so early in a long season resonates with me as I think about the news coming out of Avaya yesterday regarding the sale of the data networking business.

We're obviously very early in Avaya's bankruptcy cycle, with the Chapter 11 filing coming about six weeks ago. Another piece of the puzzle fell into place last night, when the company announced that Extreme Networks had offered to buy Avaya Networking for $100 million. I see no need for Avaya customers or channel partners to panic; making rash decisions so early in a prolonged cycle can end up bad, so take a breath and see what happens.

The network isn't going to stop running because the paint changes from red to purple. In fact, the shift of assets from Avaya to Extreme is likely to be a good thing for customers. I've had extensive conversations with both Extreme and Avaya about this, and neither side wants to upset the customer base.

Eye on the Core
Post acquisition, Avaya will be able to focus more on its core, which is unified communications and contact center. However, Avaya intends to become an Extreme reseller to ensure continuity for its UC and networking customers after the transaction is complete. Between then and now, Avaya will continue to sell the entire portfolio of networking products, and doesn't expect an impact on any bid, quote, or deployment. Extreme wants to buy Avaya Networking for its technology, so that's not going to go away. That means customers shouldn't hold back their businesses by putting the brakes on a network upgrade plans.

Avaya channel partners should take the same approach. Most have invested a significant amount of money, time, and people in their relationships with Avaya, and making an off-the-cuff decision could lead to business disruption. The good news for customers is that most channel partners I've talked to are in fact taking the long view and reaffirming their commitments to Avaya. One example comes from Carousel Industries, one of Avaya's largest partners. In an email to his team, James Marsh, chief revenue officer, emphasized the company's commitment to Avaya. "We are absolutely focused on growing our relationship with Avaya," he stated. "I personally have never been more excited about where [Avaya] is investing and what they're bringing to market."

Waiting Game
Just so everyone understands what happens from here, Extreme is now what's known as a "stalking horse bidder" in what amounts to an auction process. This means the door is open for another vendor to come in, up the offer, and buy Avaya Networking, so the sale to Extreme is not a fait accompli. If another company ups the offer, Extreme can counter or accept a break-up fee and collect a reimbursement for its legal fees.

However, as Occam's razor suggests, the simplest solution to a problem is typically the right one, and I don't see another vendor having the motive, fit, or opportunity to buy Avaya Networking right now. Looking at potentials... Dell-EMC could submit a bid, but the integration of those formerly separate entities is still underway and adding in another business would complicate that situation. Arista Networks certainly has the money, but as a data center pure play isn't quite the right fit. So the purchase is likely to remain in Extreme's hands, which is a good thing for customers and channel partners. Let me explain.

Customers should take comfort in the fact that Extreme is an enterprise pure play with a vision that's similar to Avaya Networking's -- networks are too complicated and too manually intensive to meet the needs of a digital organization. Avaya has built its Fabric Connect technology on the concept of a transparent core in which a network administrator can make changes at the edge of a network for proliferation throughout the network rather than on a box-by-box basis.

Avaya and Extreme have complementary portfolios, so I don't think much product rationalization will be necessary. Avaya' fabric operates at Layer 2/3, whereas Extreme's is at Layer 3. Avaya has great modular products, whereas Extreme's strengths lie in a fixed form factor. Both have a next-generation data center solution on the roadmap and without getting into details, I believe the market can support both based on vertical deployment and use case. Extreme has a strong network management platform, and Avaya recently introduced cloud management.

However, some rationalization would likely be needed around Wi-Fi. Extreme has an excellent Wi-Fi solution, bolstered by the recent acquisition of Zebra Technologies' Wi-Fi business, whereas Avaya's OEMs its solution from Xirrus. Extreme also has an outstanding network analytics tool, unimaginatively enough called ExtremeAnalytics. I would expect Extreme to ditch Xirrus and go to market with its own solution, which in my opinion is a better set of products.

So puzzle piece one was the bankruptcy filing, and piece two will turn out to be the divestiture of Avaya Networking. Avaya plans to file a plan with the court this month, so the picture should be complete soon enough. For now, let's follow Rodgers' advice, and R-E-L-A-X.

Follow Zeus Kerravala on Twitter and Google+!
@zkerravala
Zeus Kerravala on Google+





COMMENTS



Enterprise Connect Orlando 2017
March 27-30 | Orlando, FL
Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem


Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Special Offer - Save $200 Off Advance Rates

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

April 5, 2017

Its no secret that the cloud offers significant benefits to enterprises - including cost reduction, scalability, higher efficiency, and more flexibility. If your phone system and contact center are

March 22, 2017

As today's competitive business environments push workforces into overdrive, many enterprises are seeking ways of streamlining workflows while optimizing productivity, business agility, and speed.

March 8, 2017

Enterprise IT's ability to innovate is critical to the success of the business -- 80% of CIOs agree. But the CIO role has never been more challenging than it is today, with rising operational respo

March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.